Many people are uncomfortable discussing the death of a child with the parents because they are afraid of saying the wrong thing, because they assume the parents won't want to talk about it, or because they are reluctant to "reawaken" painful feelings.
Grieving parents are living their pain every day. If they seem to avoid talking about their child's death, it may be that they are trying to protect you from the intensity of their feelings. In this case, saying something profound to comfort them may be less important than letting the parents know that you appreciate their pain and are there to listen if they want to talk. Questions can be helpful as well. Ask how they are doing. Ask how you can be of help.
Here are some examples of helpful things you can say:
- "I'm sad for you."
- "This must be hard for you."
- "I'm sorry."
- "I'm here and I want to listen."
- "I know this is a bad time for you, and I want to help."
- "How are you doing with all of this?"
- "What can I do for you?"
- "Have you decided on a memorial service?"
Don't be afraid to mention the baby's name in conversation. Above all, stay in touch. If the parents reject your overtures at first, give them some space and try again in a few weeks or months.